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The Soul Stirrers

One of the most popular and influential gospel groups of the 20th century, The Soul Stirrers were pioneers in the development of soul from its religious origins to its secular popularization. The group was formed by Roy Crain in 1926 in Trinity, Texas.

In 1936, the Soul Stirrers were performing in Houston and recorded by Alan Lomax. Soon, the breakthrough lineup was formed with Crain, Jesse Farley, T.L. Bruster, James Medlock and R.H. Harris. Performing throughout the Chicago area, the Soul Stirrers gained a devoted following and soon signed to Specialty Records. A couple dozen tracks followed, including "By and By" and "In that Awful Hour". Harris, the most popular member of the group, soon quit and was replaced by the then-unknown Sam Cooke. The first single with Cooke was "Jesus Gave Me Water", a major hit that brought the Soul Stirrers massive acclaim. Bruster was replaced by Bob King and, briefly, Julius Cheeks. When Cooke left in 1956, the Soul Stirrers' career was essentially over, though a brief period of success with Johnnie Taylor kept the group around for a time. Various line-ups continued touring and recording throughout the last half of the century to a small and devoted following.